Sharing Our Light

by Alsherrae’ Ray

When asked about the most groundbreaking black people in theater and cinema, most people immediately think of Viola Davis or Denzel Washington. Rightfully, they should.

Black actors have come a long way since the pioneers like Sydney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel. Black actors have come a long way since A Raisin in the Sun and Imitation of Life. Now with the success of Get Out and Moonlight. Black art has come a long way, andthis is only the beginning.

Every since November, cinema has been flooded with black films. Moonlight dominated the box office and even won Best Picture at the Academy Awards (after an embarrassing mix-up that originally crowned La La Land over Moonlight).

Fences, a film starring and directed by Denzel Washington, was very successful commercially and critically. 

Fences, which I was personally excited to see, voiced several problems in the black community, including illegitimate children and black people in sports, that have transcended over multiple generations.

The most important and inspirational film that was released was Hidden Figures. Praising incredibly intelligent and resilient black women, the film told the story of Katherine Johnson, the first black woman to calculate the launch and landing coordinates for NASA. She was a key component in getting John Glenn into orbit around the Earth.

When I first saw the trailer for Get Out promoted on my Twitter timeline way back in early November, I watched it with the same nonchalance that I typically watch horror films. However, after the third or fourth time I saw the trailer, I realized that this wasn’t just any ordinary horror film.

Unlike the typically bloody, gory, and screaming films, this film was full of truth. Masked to a huge portion of society, the theme rang quite clear with the black community. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, the film does not fail to emphasize a hidden issue in the black community.

All in all, as a young black actress, seeing so many leaps and bounds in black cinema makes me excited. It makes me happy to see black people enjoying something and being given opportunities to participate in other careers other than STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and sports.

Don’t get me wrong. We certainly need black people in STEM, but it personally gives me joy to see Black people in the arts.

After all, people always crave the arts to fuel the soul.

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